With one of the largest Christmas markets in the nation, another pop-up market plus a Ferris wheel, two-tier carousel and ice rink at City Hall, multiple must-see holiday light displays, and dozens of other festive experiences, it is no surprise as to why POPSUGAR cited Philadelphia as one of the top places that holiday-lovers need to add to their holiday travel list.
See below for a list of seasonal attractions and experiences to add to your 2021 winter itinerary.
TIP: Move from one holiday attraction to another by riding the Philly PHLASH, which offers affordable rides around downtown Philadelphia for only $2 per ride or $5 per day. The PHLASH will operate with Friday-Sunday service through December 26 (no service on Christmas Day) and will run a special daily weekday service for the week between Christmas and New Years’ Eve (December 27-30).
Shop for gifts at an authentic German Christmas Village
Another Philadelphia holiday tradition, the Philadelphia Christmas Village returns to LOVE Park and the northern apron of City Hall for its 14th season of festive fun and plentiful holiday shopping experiences. The pop-up market will open on Thanksgiving Day and run through Christmas Eve (with a preview weekend set for November 20 and 21) and will feature over 110 local artisans and makers selling hand-crafted goods out of traditional German wooden shopping stalls. Making their return in 2021 will be the popular Ferris Wheel and Kids Train on City Hall’s northern apron, with new experiences including a two-tier holiday carousel and an all-new German food court awaiting in the City Hall courtyard. As they stroll the grounds, guests can enjoy daily live performances and themed weekend activities, feast on an array of European-themed menu items, and visit the beer garden to sip mulled wine or seasonal craft beer from area breweries.
Ice skate beside City Hall…
One of two seasonal ice rinks in Philadelphia, the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink and its accompanying Cabin will open for the season on November 5 and run through February 27. Advance reservations for 90-minute skating sessions are strongly encouraged. Children and adults with disabilities can reserve sleds beginning January 3 and through the remainder of the ice rink’s season. With décor that evokes cozy ski chalet vibes, the Cabin invites visitors inside to relax, refuel and recharge with a menu of seasonal food and drink items for all ages alongside a selection of beer and cocktails for adults.
TIP: Don’t miss opening weekend festivities, which include skating fairies and a stilt walking sprite on November 5, themed food and drink specials at the cabin that evening, followed by an ice carving demonstration, crafts and more at 1 p.m. on November 6.
…then finish your holiday shopping at Dilworth Park
From November 20 through New Year’s Day, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market will join the ice rink and cabin in Dilworth Park, featuring over 40 local makers from the Philadelphia region. Alongside holiday-inspired crafts, gifts, and other goods, the market will feature food, confections, and local beer which can be enjoyed throughout the park. While shopping, be sure to visit the nearby Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn, decorated with reindeer topiaries and other whimsical holiday décor. To learn more about the market and for a list of vendors, click here.
Be amazed as holiday lights bring City Hall to life
Center City District’s annual Deck the Hall Light Show returns for the 2021 holiday season, with a series of festive projections on a continuous, evening-long loop illuminating City Hall’s western façade. The beautiful digital projections, which seem to animate the historic building’s columns, windows, and sculptures in various holiday patterns and themes, will run 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday from November 22 through January 1, 2022. For more information and to plan your visit, click here.
Surround yourself with over one million lights at the nation’s first zoo
After a glowing debut in 2019 and a pause in 2020 due to the pandemic, LumiNature returns to the Philadelphia Zoo for the 2021 holiday season, featuring dozens of illuminating, animal-themed displays spread throughout the grounds of the nation’s first zoo. The all-ages experience opens on November 18 and run through January 9, with 14 different themed experience zones for guests to explore, each filled with whimsical and wonderous holiday light fixtures, such as a 100-foot-long aquarium tunnel and giant jellyfish. Look for a vibrant, 21-foot snake, hundreds of glowing penguins, a 25-foot tree made entirely of flamingo lawn ornaments, and other creative displays, light shows, and holiday activities. Tickets for LumiNature at Philadelphia Zoo are available online now.
Transport yourself to a winter wonderland at Longwood Gardens
This holiday season, experience the spectacular seasonal wonderland that is Longwood Gardens during A Longwood Christmas. From November 19 through January 9 in nearby Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, stroll the 1,000+ acre property of Longwood Gardens outdoors to admire beautiful decorated trees and other holiday light displays, or relax and warm up beside one of several fire pits. Enter the Conservatory to admire a “frozen” succulent fountain and other displays that evoke an icy winter landscape and contrast beautifully with tall trees decorated in fiery colors. Visit in the evening to see the entire property glow with half-a-million carefully strung holiday lights. Timed tickets are available now online, with sellouts likely.
TIP: Unable to make it to A Longwood Christmas this year? Watch this video fly-through of last year’s beautifully decorated Conservatory to experience the magic from home.
Welcome winter at one of Philadelphia’s original five squares
Beginning November 18, historic Franklin Square will be transformed into a whimsical winter destination, complete with a festive Chilly Philly Mini Golf course, charming carousel, and the popular Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, which features over 100,000 lights throughout the park that glow, twinkle, and dance along to a playlist of holiday favorites each evening (shows are every 30 minutes from 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, weather permitting). Guests can rest and warm up at Franklin’s Winter View operated by Cescaphe, where they can enjoy seasonal comfort food, local craft beer and hot beverages at outdoor fire pits or inside a heated tent. Other seasonal activities include Santa Saturdays, a Hanukkah Dreidel Giveaway with Old City Jewish Arts Center, and a Kwanzaa Celebration with the African American Museum in Philadelphia. This year, the winter fun can be enjoyed longer than ever before, daily from November 18, 2021 through February 27, 2022 (closed November 26, December 25, and January 1).
TIP: Don’t miss the Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown at Franklin Square on December 31 from 4-9 p.m., which will ring in 2022 with a family-friendly celebration featuring crafts, kids dance party, Square Drop and more.
Enjoy beloved Philadelphia holiday traditions inside a historic department store
A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the Macy’s Christmas Light Show in the historic Wanamaker Building features whimsical holiday scenes made of over 100,000 LED lights — including a 34,500-LED tree — that dance along to classic tunes from the Wanamaker Organ (the largest playable instrument in the world). For 2021, the holiday show will be performed once a day at 10:30 a.m. from December 1-24, and at 11:30 a.m. from December 26-31. No reservations are required, however times may change and additional performances may be added throughout the season. For the latest updates, click here.
Once again joining the festive light display is Macy’s Dickens’ Village — a 6,000-square-foot walk-through experience featuring 26 scenes from Charles Dickens’ holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Open November 26 through December 31, Dickens’ Village is by reservation only for the 2021 season and reservations must be made online five days in advance of your planned visit.
TIP: While visiting Macy’s to view the light show or Dickens Village, be sure take advantage of Philadelphia’s tax-free clothing and shoe shopping and check those final few holiday gifts off your list.
Admire Philadelphia’s official Holiday Tree
Each year, the City of Philadelphia’s Holiday Tree stands tall on the northern apron of the historic municipal building, featuring thousands of colorful, twinkling lights and an assortment of Philadelphia-themed ornaments and decorations (look for the Liberty Bell on the top of the tree). The more than 4,000 lights strung around the 50-foot tree will be illuminated during a special in-person ceremony on Thursday, December 2 at 7 p.m. — complete with a live performance by Disney’s D Capella and special guest appearances throughout — and will be illuminated through the end of the year.
Relax by the fire, sip hot cocoa, and ice skate beside the Delaware River
The annual Winterfest seasonal pop-up returns to the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River from November 26, 2021 through March 6, 2022. Once again, visitors will be able to rent skates and ice skate in the massive riverside rink, relax in a cozy cabin — available to rent for a set period of time for groups of up to six people — warm up by the fire pits, and refuel inside The Lodge, which serves seasonal food and drink options from local vendors. Don’t miss special events throughout the season, including a holiday tree lighting ceremony on December 3 and two spectacular fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve. For more information and to plan your visit, click here.
Watch a festive boat parade
The Independence Seaport Museum’s annual Parade of Lights returns to the Delaware River for in-person viewing on December 4, 2021. The family-friendly seasonal spectacle features a series of boats sailing along the river while decked out in holiday lights, wreaths, and other decorations, plus a special appearance from Santa Claus himself. Guests of all ages can enjoy the parade at vantage points outside of the museum along the Delaware River waterfront beginning at sundown (approximately 5:15 p.m.), and can visit the museum earlier in the day for themed crafts, activities, exploration and more.
Get into the holiday spirit along the Camden waterfront
Just across the Delaware River from downtown Philadelphia, the attractions that line the waterfront of Camden, New Jersey are embracing the holidays with themed experiences and special events throughout the season. Home to the largest collection of sharks in the Northeast, Adventuer Aquarium’s Christmas Underwater special event runs through December 24 and features “sea”-sonal fun, such as appearances by Scuba Santa, the world’s largest underwater Christmas Tree, underwater light displays, and three new festive holiday shows. Just a short walk away, the historic Battleship New Jersey — the most decorated battleship in U.S. naval history — is displaying a holiday model train display for all visitors to enjoy from December 11 through December 26 in the Wardroom, free to experience with a tour of the battleship.
TIP: Don’t miss the opportunity to ring in the New Year aboard the Battleship New Jersey, which presents unbeatable views of the New Year’s Eve (and New Year’s Day) fireworks displays with the Philadelphia skyline as a backdrop. Purchase tickets here.
Marvel at a miraculous South Philadelphia light display
Each year, residents along the 1600 block of S 13th in Philadelphia’s East Passyunk neighborhood team up to create a truly stunning holiday display for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Over 300,000 lights are strung along the street, crossing from house to house overhead while each building features their own unique holiday theme, such as The Grinch, A Christmas Story, and even Star Wars. Visitors are welcome to drive through the Miracle on South 13th Street, or mask up and walk along the block to admire each house in greater detail. On view from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.
TIP: View this and other festive light displays around Philadelphia by joining a tour offered by a local tour company, such as Philadelphia Urban Adventures’ Holiday Lights driving tour and Founding Footsteps’ trolley-based BYOB Holiday Light Tour (also available as a private tour).
Warm up with hot chocolate and festive cocktails as you enjoy a dazzling light show in East Market
Home to the new Canopy by Hilton hotel and accompanying American brasserie, The Wayward, Center City’s East Market development has transformed into a winter wonderland for the holiday season, complete with a 35-foot-tall tree, festive décor and special events through December. Thursdays through Saturdays in December, visitors can enjoy a synchronized, animated light show featuring hundreds of LED lights around the holiday tree (5:15 p.m. & 6:15 p.m. Thursday, 5:30 & 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday). On Thursdays and Saturdays, guests can also enjoy hot chocolate, cocktails and light bites from The Wayward, as well as live music performances, seasonal giveaways and other activations from area tenants. While in East Market, be sure to enjoy the offerings from nearby vendors and restaurants, including Federal Donuts and Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant. For up-to-date information and performance schedules, follow East Market on social media.
Have a historic holiday in Old City
Home to historic sites, independent shops and boutiques, and restaurants serving a wide range of cuisines, Philadelphia’s Old City District will celebrate the holiday season with special events and holiday shopping opportunities in November and December. Festive events include a community menorah lighting (November 28, 4:30 p.m.) and a holiday tree lighting ceremony (December 1, 6:30 p.m.) at the Betsy Ross House, plus an Old City Shopping Stroll from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 15, where shoppers can enjoy special offers and extended hours at businesses and boutiques throughout the district. All season long, including Black Friday (November 26), Small Business Saturday (November 27) and Museum Store Sunday (November 28), find special holiday deals at the locally owned shops and boutiques throughout Old City, such as Philadelphia Independents and Art in the Age, and at gift shops of area museums like the Museum of the American Revolution, Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History and Betsy Ross House. As you explore the district, keep an eye out for storefronts with festive decorations as part of Old City’s Holiday Window Decorating Contest (and vote for your favorite here).
TIP: Don’t miss Betsy’s Birthday Bash, a celebration of Betsy Ross’ 270th birthday at her historic Old City home, on Friday, December 31 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., featuring special activities such as a birthday card craft station, storytelling, and goodie bags for all paying guests.
Enjoy brunch with princesses in enchanting igloos in Northern Liberties
One of Philadelphia’s newest restaurant options, Figo Ristorante in Northern Liberties has updated their outdoor dining experience for the winter, featuring 12-foot-wide, sparkling Igloos that offer a brilliant view of the neighborhoods first-ever holiday tree. Up to eight guests can enjoy their meal inside an Igloo, each constructed with clear, sustainable panels and featuring festive décor plus a central table-top fire pit. In partnership with A Dash of Magic Events, this holiday season Figo is hosting Enchanted in Northern Liberties: Princess Brunch at the Igloos — 90-minute dining experiences perfect for families that feature appearances from popular princesses such as Elsa from Frozen. Figo has also introduced a Holiday Cocktail Garden, which is able to accommodate up to 50 guests in a heated, covered indoor-outdoor setting.
Shop for locally made holiday gifts from South Street’s eclectic mix of storefronts
South Street Headhouse District’s Holiday Window Walk debuts on Black Friday, November 26, and runs through December 26, featuring cheerful holiday window decorations from neighborhood businesses, each of whom are offering unique holiday gift ideas and special offers all season long. Explore the multitude of small businesses found throughout the district and shop gifts that are sure to please each family member or friend, including gift cards to area restaurants, artwork and other items created by local artisans, vintage clothing and jewelry, and much more. Look for special arts and crafts activities, such as BYOB candle making at Loomen Labs: Candle + Seltzer Bar, and seasonal offerings from local eateries such as Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, Cavanaugh’s Headhouse, and Hale & True Cider Company.
TIP: Don’t miss the Holiday Window Walk Grand Reveal from 4-8 p.m. on November 26, featuring live music, warm beverages, snacks, and no shortage of special holiday sales.
Shop artisan gifts and goods from 50+ vendors at a holiday pop-up market
Over the first two weekends of December, more than 50 vendors will come together to sell their artisan goods and gifts at Northern Liberties’ 2nd Annual Holiday Pop-Up Market. Hosted on the mezzanine of hip, retro-inspired bowling alley, North Bowl, this two-weekend pop-up market will feature vendors selling everything from jewelry to holiday cards, baked goods to home goods, candles to crocheted blankets, and much more. The Market will also include special events and activities each weekend, such as an ornament making station on December 5 and photos with Krampus on December 11.
Be serenaded by carolers as you shop for the perfect gift along East Passyunk Avenue
South Philadelphia’s store-lined thoroughfare, East Passyunk Avenue, is hosting a series of holiday happenings this season that are sure to delight visitors of all ages. On December 8, 18 and 19, children (and pets) can take a free photo with Santa at 1904 E Passyunk Avenue. On December 12, an all-day Shop and Stroll event will feature sidewalk sales from many of the storefronts that line the avenue, as well as pop-up events, live music performances and more, with a special Holiday Dance and Concert hosted at Society Hill Dance Academy at 4 p.m. Visitors to East Passyunk Avenue can enjoy these festive experiences and more — like pop-up music performances and holiday story times on select dates — as they shop for gift cards, artisan goods and other gifts from the over 160 independent businesses found throughout the district.
Visit Eastern State Penitentiary at dusk for evening tours, a beer garden, special activities and more
Following the successful Night Tours: Summer Twilight and revamped Halloween Nights experiences earlier this year, America’s most historic prison, Eastern State Penitentiary, is once again inviting guests to explore what was once the most expensive prison ever built at dusk this winter. Night Tours: Winter Holidays runs select evenings from November 26 through December 30, allowing visitors to explore the crumbling cellblocks and partake in a variety of seasonal offerings after the sun goes down, including an indoor version of The Fair Chance Beer Garden, featuring beer from Triple Bottom Brewing, pizza from Down North Pizza and s’mores, hot chocolate and other treats from The Monkey & The Elephant, Philadelphia’s first and only non-profit coffee shop. The event will also interpret holiday celebrations and hardships in prisons via several activations, including a multi-media presentation, films, a Pop-Up Museum, and a station where guests can create holiday cards for incarcerated individuals.
TIP: As part of Eastern State’s Holiday Toy Drive (November 26-December 22), guests who donate a children’s book or toy benefitting children with currently or recently incarcerated parents will receive a “Buy One, Get One Free” daytime tour voucher.
Celebrate the season with Big Bird, Elmo, and other Sesame Street characters
For a festive, family-friendly holiday experience, take a short trip north from Philadelphia for Sesame Place’s A Very Furry Christmas Celebration, open on select dates from November 20 through January 2. The amusement park is decorated for the holidays with twinkling lights, decorations and a 30-foot tree that projects animations as part of a memorable light show that will delight visitors of all ages. For tickets and more information, click here.
Sing along to holiday classics as performed by the Philly POPS
From December 4-18, The Philly POPS — the largest standalone pops orchestra in the nation — will once again present their beloved, annual A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season in front of a live audience at the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus. The festive showcase will feature spirited renditions of holiday classics by the POPS alongside Broadway stars Scarlett Strallen (Mary Poppins) and Hugh Panaro (The Phantom of the Opera), energetic guest pianist Charlie Albright, and a singing Santa Claus. Over 300 performers will be on stage for the seasonal serenade, including performances by The Philly POPS Festival Chorus, The Philadelphia Boys Choir, and The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir. For more information and to secure your tickets, click here.
Take in a timeless holiday performance by Philadelphia Ballet
Performed annually inside the historic Academy of Music, Philadelphia Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s joyful The Nutcracker is a Philadelphia winter holiday staple sure to delight audiences of all ages. The holiday classic returns to the stage in front of live audiences from December 10-13, 2021, featuring Tchaikovsky’s sensational score as performed by the Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra. Tickets are available now, with opening night seats available for as low as $10 and tickets for other performances starting at $25.
Eat, drink and be merry at one of Philadelphia’s festive pop-up bars
This winter, several bars, restaurants and beer gardens in downtown Philadelphia are embracing the holidays by sporting seasonal décor and offering festive, themed experiences and menus. Housed in a former jewelry store along 12th Street in Midtown Village, local favorite Tinsel is once again open through December 31, with wall-to-wall holiday decorations including hanging Christmas trees, thousands of twinkling lights, a giant sleigh, portraits of fan-favorite holiday characters and dozens of Insta-worthy moments, plus a lineup of holiday-themed cocktails like “The Jack Frost” and “The Grinch.” Located near historic Jewelers’ Row, Craftsmans Row Saloon is now a winter wonderland (through January) adorned with over 5,000 feet of garland, thousands of ornaments, twinkling lights, stockings and more. While there, enjoy over-the-top seasonal food and drink options, such as an Ugly Sweater milkshake (with a boozy option for adults) and a Christmas Dinner burger. Center City’s Uptown Beer Garden — which relocated to a new, permanent location across from LOVE Park earlier this year — is also getting in on the seasonal fun by transforming their 18,000-square-foot space into the Dr. Seuss-inspired U-Ville, complete with thousands of holiday lights, festive music, decorated trees, firepits and more.
Let a local restaurant prepare your holiday feast
Many of Philadelphia’s acclaimed restaurants are offering their own renditions of festive feasts for the holiday season for pre-order and pick-up, as well as special dining experiences at several of the city’s most popular establishments. Located at the base of the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Bank & Bourbon’s Christmas Day Buffet includes seasonal salads, carving stations featuring Montreal smoked short rib, honey-baked Virginia ham and whole roasted Verlasso salmon, plus an assortment of sweet treats like seasonal pies, cookies and more. Additional restaurants offering dine-in specials on Christmas include Square 1682 (Christmas Day) — with star dishes like glazed lamb chops, cauliflower curry and house-made cheesecake — Urban Farmer (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with to-go or dine-in options), Amada (Christmas Eve, dine-in or to-go via Garces Trading Company), Bridget Foy’s (Christmas Day, dine-in), and Red Owl Tavern (Christmas dinner), among others.
“Cheers!” to holiday cheer with seasonal cocktails high above the historic district
The chic Stratus Rooftop Lounge, located on the top floor of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Old City, has transformed their recently renovated Mist Pavilion into a Winter Wonderland for the holiday season. Through December, Christmas trees, twinkling lights and other festive decorations fill the indoor pavilion, where guests can indulge in seasonal small bites and winter-themed cocktails, such as the Candy Cane Fizz, made using peppermint-infused gin, and a chai version of an Old Fashioned, as well as mulled wine, seasonal beer and other beverages sure to raise holiday spirits.
TIP: Welcome 2022 at Stratus Rooftop Lounge during Mr. Hollywood DJ’s First Annual NYE Bash, featuring celebrity cocktails, a premier open bar, and more.
Watch a spectacular holiday showcase at the Comcast Center Campus
This holiday season, the Comcast Center Campus in downtown Philadelphia will once again welcome guests back for the return of the Comcast Holiday Spectacular — a 15-minute, family-friendly show displayed on an outdoor video wall in the Comcast Center Plaza at 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Presented at the top of every hour from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., seven days a week beginning Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day (except for when there is extreme weather), the festive show features a sleigh ride around the world and through Philadelphia, with performances from the Philadelphia Ballet as well as a sing-along to holiday classics. A sensory-friendly version will also be available, as well as the option to access an Audio Description of the program. Guests to the Comcast Cultural Campus this holiday season are also invited to step into The Universal Sphere in the upper lobby of the Comcast Technology Center — home of the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia which was awarded a AAA Five Diamond Hotel Designation — to enjoy a free, inspiring film that explores the power of ideas. Reservations for The Universal Sphere are encouraged and can be made online.
Bring the family together for a virtual program from the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History
The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History’s (NMAJH) annual Being ___ at Christmas event will be hosted virtually in 2021, with a full slate of digital programming on December 25 including performances, Tot Shabbat service, at-home art lessons, and additional family-friendly fun. Free, with a suggested donation of $18, the event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature storytelling from Grammy Award-winning artist Cory Hills, a kids concert with Alex and the Kaleidoscope, a Tzedek Box-making activity and other experiences presented digitally. For more information and to learn how to watch, click here.
TIP: Don’t forget to explore NMAJH’s collection virtually with their all-new online tour, which offers a comprehensive look at the artifacts, documents, videos and more found throughout the museum’s core exhibition.
Enjoy an enchanted garden railway display at Morris Arboretum
Morris Arboretum’s popular Holiday Garden Railway Display features a quarter mile of track with buildings all made of natural materials (bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones) to form a miniature landscape with rivers and buildings that are exact replicas of the original including Independence Hall and other Philadelphia-area landmarks, all decorated for the holidays, November 26 through January 2. On select Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings beginning November 27 and running through December 26, Holiday Garden Railway Nights allow visitors to enjoy the display in a festive, illuminated environment. To learn more and purchase tickets, click here.
Discover holiday cheer in Chestnut Hill
Home to 200 retailers, including many independently-owned boutiques selling a variety of goods such as toys, antiques, home goods, clothes, and more, Chestnut Hill makes for a must-visit holiday shopping destination. On Small Business Saturday, November 27, visitors to Philadelphia’s Garden District can shop for gifts and take advantage of special offers at storefronts throughout the neighborhood, with appearances from mummers, carolers, and Santa Claus throughout the day. Each Wednesday in December (through December 22), the district will host its beloved Stag & Doe Nights, which feature extended store hours and holiday specials at participating retailers and restaurants. As you move from one festively decorated storefront to another, you’ll enjoy holiday music played by a brass quartet and may even bump into Santa Claus along the way. If shopping works up an appetite, there are dozens of appetizing restaurants nearby, all offering a wide range of cuisines, seasonal menus, and safe indoor or outdoor dining options.
TIP: Don’t miss local favorite Bredenbeck’s Bakery, offering festive gingerbread, reindeer, and cookie cake kits alongside their robust selection of treats.
View a gingerbread competition, marvel at one million holiday lights, and have a Holly Jolly Weekend at Peddler’s Village
Take a short trip north from downtown Philadelphia and visit the charming shopping town of Peddler’s Village this holiday season, where you can finish your holiday shopping and (from November 19 through January 9) admire one million holiday lights strung on businesses and restaurants throughout the beautiful Bucks County destination. Other seasonal experiences include a Gingerbread Competition and Display (November 19 through January 8), which allows visitors to view over 70 gingerbread-based displays created by locals and vote for their favorite, as well as a Merchants Open House Week, with over 65 locally owned shops and boutiques offering personalized gift-giving ideas from November 15-21. Not to be missed is the Holly Jolly Weekend on December 4 and 5, featuring Santa parades and extended hours from shops to aid in any last-minute holiday shopping. For more seasonal events in Peddler’s Village, click here.
Observe a Christmas Day reenactment of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware
Each year on Christmas Day, Washington Crossing Historic Park in nearby Bucks County hosts a special reenactment of General George Washington’s famous 1776 crossing of the Delaware River. From noon until 3 p.m., hundreds of reenactors dressed as Continental soldiers will fill the park, where they will listen to a speech by George Washington before loading into boats and rowing across the river to New Jersey. This event is a unique opportunity to witness a pivotal moment in American history brought to life in the very spot the original crossing occurred.
TIP: For those unable to attend on Christmas Day, Washington Crossing Historic Park is hosting a First Crossing reenactment event on December 12.
Navigate a wonderland of giant glowing sculptures in Philadelphia’s Countryside
All-new for 2021, Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular presented by Dietz & Watson fills The Fairgrounds at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks — just a short trip from downtown Philadelphia, King of Prussia and Valley Forge — with giant light sculptures and festive displays powered by over 1.2 million light bulbs, an artisan holiday market, seasonal food and drink options and more. Among the larger-than-life displays are giant holiday ornaments, Santa’s sleigh, a 60-foot walk-through tunnel, and a massive Liberty Bell. Other all ages activities include photos with Santa, Storytime with Mrs. Claus and 30-minute skating sessions around an eco-friendly, synthetic skating rink. Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular opens for the season on Friday, November 26 and is open on select dates through January 2. To learn more and to reserve your tickets, click here.
Celebrate the arrival of 2022 in style with elegant dinners and parties you don’t want to miss
Philadelphia is the place to party this New Year’s Eve with many restaurants, bars, clubs, and historical sites offering special celebrations. Toast to the new year over a three-course dinner aboard the historic Moshulu – the only tall ship in the world to have a restaurant – or dance 2021 away at the ship’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks Boat Bash. Treat yourself to a lavish four-course meal at Chez Colette at Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square to close out 2021 and welcome 2022. Get your groove on at Forsythia, a contemporary bar and restaurant in Old City, where guests are encouraged to come in costume for a French Disco Dance Party. Additional parties are happening at Blind Barber in Midtown Village, 700 in Northern Liberties and Vesper in Center City, among many others.
Ring in the New Year with not one, not two, but three stunning fireworks shows
Welcome 2022 in spectacular fashion by observing one of several fireworks displays in Philadelphia on December 31 and January 1. On New Year’s Eve, fireworks will illuminate the skies over the Delaware River at two times — 6 p.m. and again at midnight — and are best viewed at multiple vantage points along the Delaware River Waterfront, such as Penn’s Landing and Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Tickets will be available soon for Winterfest New Year’s Eve Parties on Ice, which allows guests to enjoy a front row seat to the fireworks displays while enjoying ice skating, seasonal food and drink, and other winter fun at the seasonal pop-up. New for 2022, in case you miss the stunning displays the night prior, Visit Philadelphia is presenting a special third fireworks show over the Delaware River on January 1, beginning at 6 p.m.
Strut into 2022 during the annual Mummers Parade
Named Best Holiday Parade in the nation by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice for 2021 and one of Philadelphia’s most unique annual traditions, the Mummers Parade is a must-see holiday event held each New Year’s Day in downtown Philadelphia. Beginning at 9 a.m. and featuring thousands of costumed Philadelphia residents representing more than 40 clubs within five different divisions, the parade marches from City Hall to South Philadelphia along Broad Street. Along the way, each club stops to perform a short skit — with some brigades delivering Broadway-caliber song and dance routines with props and special effects — as they are judged on costumes, musicianship, presentation and more. The day is capped by show-stopping performances by the Fancy Brigades at a ticketed finale inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center. To learn more about the parade, its history, the different divisions and where best to enjoy the festive fun, consult our guide.
Cover photo: Christmas Village in Philadelphia. Photo by D. Lakatos.